Eddie Catz Founder Faces Jail For Voyeurism Offences

Made peepholes at play centres and Leisure Centre to spy on girls and women

Darren Johnson, the founder of the Eddie Catz chain of children’s play centres, which has a branch in Colliers Wood, is facing jail after pleading guilty to charges of voyeurism.

The 51-year-old has admitted to five counts of the offence in addition to taking over 700 video clips of female staff and young girls secretly filmed at various branches of Eddie Catz - including the Earlsfield branch - and at Putney Leisure Centre.

A raid by police on his home in Manor Fields, Putney, in June uncovered a collection of videos that he had made for sexual gratification dating back 12 years.

Johnson opened the first branch of Eddie Catz in Putney in 2005 with his wife Maria. The chain now has nine branches including soft-play areas in Mothercare shops across the country. The Eddie Catz Wimbledon branch opened in Station Road, Colliers Wood, in 2008.

In June last year he filmed two 14-year-old girls getting changed in a cubicle in Putney Leisure Centre while they were attending a school swimming class. They saw an iPhone being pointed at them under the door of the cubicle.

Later Johnson was seen on CCTV at the Leisure centre with his iPhone. Afterwards it was discovered that he had created peepholes in lavatories at the centre and taken images of women and girls using them. Kingston Crown Court heard that he had also created peepholes in the Earlsfield branch of Eddie Catz.

Detective Constable Nayeff Al-Wareeth, from the Met’s South West Command, said: "This conviction would not have been possible without the courage and bravery of the young girls who first came forward with the initial allegation.

"We will continue to work around the clock to ensure that criminals like Johnson are off our streets and behind bars."

Johnson resigned as a director of Eddie Catz when the allegations were made and is no longer a shareholder. He will be sentenced on August 28.

July 20, 2018

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Darren Johnson

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